|PROVINCES et territoires|
|New Brunswick||Newfoundland||Northwest Territories|
|Prince Edward Island||Québec||Saskatchewan|
"The great purpose of landscape art is to make us at home in our own country" was the nationalist maxim motivating the Group of Seven's artistic project. The empty landscape paintings of the Group played a significant role in the nationalization of nature in Canada, particularly in the development of ideas about northernness, wilderness, and identity. In this book, John O'Brian and Peter White pick up where the Group of Seven left off. They demonstrate that since the 1960s a growing body of both art and critical writing has looked "beyond wilderness" to re-imagine landscape in a world of vastly altered political, technological, and environmental circumstances. By emphasizing social relationships, changing identity politics, and issues of colonial power and dispossession contemporary artists have produced landscape art that explores what was absent in the work of their predecessors. Beyond Wilderness expands the public understanding of Canadian landscape representation, tracing debates about the place of landscape in Canadian art and the national imagination through the twentieth century to the present. Critical writings from both contemporary and historically significant curators, historians, feminists, media theorists, and cultural critics and exactingly reproduced artworks by contemporary and historical artists are brought together in productive dialogue. Beyond Wilderness explains why landscape art in Canada had to be reinvented, and what forms the reinvention took.
Contributors include Benedict Anderson (Cornell), Grant Arnold (Vancouver Art Gallery). Rebecca Belmore, Jody Berland (York), Eleanor Bond (Concordia), Jonathan Bordo (Trent), Douglas Cole, Marlene Creates, Marcia Crosby (Malaspina), Greg Curnoe, Ann Davis (Nickle Arts Museum), Leslie Dawn (Lethbridge), Shawna Dempsey, Christos Dikeakos, Peter Doig, Rosemary Donegan (OCAD), Stan Douglas, Paterson Ewen, Robert Fones, Northrop Frye, Robert Fulford, General Idea, Rodney Graham, Reesa Greenberg, Gu Xiong (British Columbia), Cole Harris (British Columbia), Richard William Hill (Middlesex), Robert Houle, Andrew Hunter (Waterloo), Lynda Jessup (Queen's), Zacharias Kunuk (Igloolik Isuma Productions), Johanne Lamoureux (Montréal), Robert Linsley (Waterloo), Barry Lord (Lord Cultural Resources), Marshall McLuhan, Mike MacDonald, Liz Magor (ECIAD), Lorri Millan, Gerta Moray (Guelph), Roald Nasgaard (Florida State), N.E. Thing Company, Carol Payne (Carleton), Edward Poitras, Dennis Reid (Art Gallery of Ontario), Michel Saulnier, Nancy Shaw (Simon Fraser), Johanne Sloan (Concordia), Michael Snow, Robert Stacey, David Thauberger, Loretta Todd, Esther Trépanier (Québec), Dot Tuer (OCAD), Christopher Varley, Jeff Wall, Paul H. Walton (McMaster), Mel Watkins (Toronto), Scott Watson (British Columbia), Anne Whitelaw (Alberta), Joyce Wieland, Jin-me Yoon (Simon Fraser), Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, and Joyce Zemans (York).
The Beaver Hall Group was an association of Quebec artists which officially began its existence in 1920. Under the leadership of A.Y. Jackson, the group attracted and fostered the work of artists interested in the newest European trends and unconcerned about the consequences of cold-shouldering traditional approaches to subject representation. Remarkably, unlike its Ontario counterpart, the Group of Seven, the Beaver Hall Group had a large contingent of female artists, and though the Group prided itself on its eschewal of any bias-related to class, gender, or artistic preference-it seems to have been especially hospitable to women and proved an excellent springboard for their careers. The work of ten of its most successful women is celebrated in this book with colour plates and short but not uninformative biographies. The book is therefore of some historical value in addition to being a beautifully produced "art book" richly exhibiting works that deserve to be known and admired. The ten women on view here are Nora Collyer, Emily Coonan, Prudence Heward, Mabel Lockerby, Henrietta Mabel May, Kathleen Morris, Lilias Torrance Newton, Sarah Robertson, Anne Savage, and Ethel Seath. All ten were born in the last quarter of the 19th century. Kathleen Morris was the last to pass away in 1986. The Art Association of Montreal, which evolved into the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, was the art school of note in early 20th-century Montreal, and provided a thorough grounding in drawing and painting, supplementing technical studies with frequent lectures and a library of books and catalogues. The Beaver Hall elite begun their education there, but were later encouraged to break free of conventional ideas concerning both art and the role of women in society and the professions. I'm greatly taken with the portraits of Emily Coonan (Italian Girl, c. 1921, Girl in Dotted Dress, c. 1923), Prudence Heward (At the Theatre, 1928, Girl in the Window, 1941, and At the CafT, n.d.), and Lilias Torrance Newton (Portrait of Madame Lily Valty, n.d.), Self-Portrait, c. 1929, Lady in Black, c. 1936). These works are phenomenal-timeless, existing outside of any period or style, despite the modernist label. Coonan's and Heward's work is often haunting; the women portrayed are in a space of their own, looking inward and sad. Lilias Torrance Newton's models are beautiful, confident, and look to be nearly within reach of the personal liberty and independence North American women enjoy today. There are superb landscapes here. When Henrietta Mabel May didn't allow herself to be overly influenced by European impressionists, she did unique work (In the Laurentians, n.d., Melting Snow, c. 1925, Summertime, c. 1935). Every reproduction of Anne Savage's work in this book is gorgeous and original (Yellow Days, Lake Wonish, 1960, La Maison Rouge, Dorval, c. 1928, Northern Town, Banff, c. 1938). The same can be said of the distinctive, illustrative paintings of Ethel Seath (The White Barn, Eastern Townships, c. 1941, Pears in a Window, before 1944, Undergrowth, 1954). I don't have room here to prTcis the careers or personal histories of these talented, dedicated women, many of whom served their communities as volunteers or educators, and accomplished a great deal besides their art. I would encourage readers interested in fine Canadian art to seek this book out and get to know the works and the women who painted them. Olga Stein (Books in Canada)